It appears I’ve been put in Retirement Village, Florida. OK, not really. But almost. It’s quite pleasant. The streets are all paved. The weather is quite mild. It gets rather warm during the afternoon, but falls to a pleasant 75 at night. Our area is located right next to the airport, so the planes come in and out over our head. Sometimes, seeing so many planes can be a curse rather than a blessing for a homesick missionary. Luckily, I feel like I’m just now starting my mission, so thoughts of home are far from the forefront of my mind.
My companion is an American from Oregon. He likes american football and played as a linebacker in high school (did I spell that right? For all I know about football, he could have told me he caught the snitch and I would have believed him). He’s been cursed with a couple lazier companions in the past and there are some established habits in this area that need to be broken. In a certain sense, I feel like a fix-it man in our area. Those suspicions were confirmed when our Zone Leader told me that he had asked Mission HQ to put a worker in the zone and they sent me as a result.
I certainly don’t consider myself a skillful or even persuasive missionary. Sometimes I feel my personal shortcomings inhibit the power of the Spirit to work through me. But I do work hard and strive to live worthily of the companionship of the Spirit day by day. At very least, I hope that will be enough to turn the area around and set it off in the right direction. Relationships must be healed. Less active members must be brought back into the fold. There’s a dimness of hope that seems to have to taken hold of many here. Without a doubt, many prayers and much fasting will be required to produce even the smallest results. To a certain point, I feel my months here may end up being what missionaries like to call their “personal Gethsemane“. That is to say, it will become “that one area” where our work is against the odds and much effort is required to gain even a little ground. “That one area” where the ward may be few in numbers and disillusionment runs rampant. It’s rather like coming into the Presidency in the midst of a shrinking economy. Or, how I imagine it must be. But there’s so much to be learned! So many lessons to be had, so many people to meet, so many hearts to turn! Every trial is just a package of blessings in disguise. The harder it is to open the wrapping, the better the present! God requires the hardest work for the most valuable blessings.
I feel a strong sense of hope deep inside me. I suppose I’ve always been an optimist, sometimes to a fault, but I really think that the people and the area and the ward here have so much potential. I was inspired by Jeffrey R. Holland’s talk on Faith and how we ought not be ashamed to count ourselves with the Believers. Sometimes, it seems so hard to stand firm in the conviction we’ve been given as a means to press on. Declaring doubt is so much easier than affirming belief. Commenting on the lack of results is so much easier than realizing unrealized potential. There’s light, as Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught. There’s light, though we must stand in the right place to feel it. The more we work here, the more we try, the more I realize just how much hope there is. I’m so grateful to work as a missionary of Jesus Christ. I’m grateful to know that His Gospel has been restored. And I feel so much peace knowing that, through Him, by way of Him, because of Him, all of this will turn out well. Very well.
God Lives. He guides His work. He speaks by way of His Prophets. That we may all take part in this marvellous work and wonder.